I have a story to tell you.
It started with our oldest daughter wanting a different vehicle. Her recent luck with used vehicles purchased in NY state is abysmal. Each of them were corroded by rust beyond the point of reasonable usage within a year of her acquiring them.
So we decided to look for used vehicles from southern states. Bingo! Found a match and booked plane tickets to go purchase it and drive it home.1
Along the drive home, we stopped to visit her cousin (my niece) who has recently matriculated at a university in Virginia Beach, VA. We enjoyed breakfast with her, and then had about an hour to head to the beach while she attended her first class. We planned to meet her afterward for a tour of her new home away from home.
She directed us to Chesapeake Beach on the Chesapeake Bay. I was a little disappointed that we were not seeing the Atlantic, but it was still beautiful and I was enjoying the time with my daughter. We called home, too, to share the experience with Jen, who was watching the grandkids in Kirstie’s absence. (She has a regular gig babysitting her niece and nephews a few days a week.)
Via the video call, I showed my granddaughter the sand and the water, and all the beach things I could find, finally promising her that I’d find her a beautiful shell to bring home for her. To that point we’d seen a few fragments, and I knew that a three-year-old would find most any of them to be “beautiful”.
But they really were not very impressive. Hardly any were even whole, and even the fragments had holes in them.
Not long into our stroll down the beach, with just a small handful of possible treasures to bring home, I spotted what looked like shells just up ahead. But there were so many, and they were so big… it couldn’t be…
But they were! Hundreds of full, large shells just sitting there almost as if they were on display for us!2
We approached, astonished, and kept saying we’d found the best one, only to find five more best ones! It was amazing. We discovered there were probably hundreds more just at the edge of the surf, waiting to be washed up on shore, if these were not enough. An incredible abundance of shells!
I noted shortly after we discovered this treasure trove that the placement directly in our path (there were none other as far as we could see in either direction on this beach), and the abundance, were certainly a gift from Father. Every good and perfect gift is from him!3 Kirstie was thinking the same thing, how could this not be from him?
But just because he really wanted us to know it was from him…
A young woman with her dog had come along behind us and was marveling at the copious bounty of shells, just as we were. I was walking back from the far end, toward her, and she said, “Can you believe these shells?!” I agreed with her, and she followed with, “It’s never like this!”
That piqued my interest even more, and, having already been thinking that this was a gift from God, I decided to tell her our story. I told her about the phone call, and the promised shell, and the normal shell-hunting experience (dismal), and then this little hundred-foot block of Treasure Heaven. She replied, “Well, I don’t know who that girl knows, but someone is listening to her!” I smiled, and, knowing the Someone, said, “God is good!” She looked up at me, smiled back, and said, “God is good!”
We all enjoyed the moment, with no more words. A bit more shell hunting. Some cute little crabs caught Kirstie’s and my attention for a moment, and we watched them for a minute or so.
When we had gathered the shells we wanted and were about to head back toward our vehicle, I glanced back to see if the woman and her dog were there, but they were gone. I scanned a bit down the beach, and saw in the distance a few people with a few dogs, but I didn’t think they were her.
A bit confused, I got Kirstie’s attention and pointed out that the woman was gone, and we both wondered, where could she have gone?
We continued scanning the people (and dogs) we could see and Kirstie said, “There are people with dogs, but none of those dogs are the kind of dog she had…”
She had just vanished!
After a moment, we looked at each other, amazed again, thinking God had sent an angel to us, just to confirm that, yes, this was a gift from him to us.
Sometimes along the way, life begins to either get into a monotonous groove where each day seems to pass without notice, or there is so much going on that days become completely overwhelming. These can end up being two sides of the same coin. Each day passes and you start to say, “Where has the time gone?!”
This is probably why God encourages us to rest, be still, listen for his small voice. He is always there, but whether we’re droning or barreling along, we often miss his reminders that he is with us (and for us!).
I remember often a concept that Gary Ezzo shared in his parenting course, Growing Kids God’s Way, which we enjoyed a couple decades ago now. (I referenced this in a post called Ceremony in 2006.) There was a supplemental resource in their curriculum called “Memorials” which he suggested were an important way to remember these moments where God reminds us that he is with us. A small, physical, visible token that will prompt us to at least remember, if not share the story with someone else of “That time when God…”4
Kirstie and I now have some of those shells where we regularly see them.
The rest of our trip home, and in several conversations afterwards, the story of the shells was remembered, told, and our hearts were gladdened by the Giver of Gifts each time.
God is good!
- Note: you may be thinking, this sounds like a lot of stories, not just one… and you are correct. There were many stories from this one trip. But for today, I will skip over those stories and simply tell the one. ↩
- The photo with this post is what we saw on that beach. ↩
- James 1:17 ↩
- Another story you might enjoy in a similar vein was The Water Shoe story. That one involved us trusting and asking, but it was the same Giver who replied. ↩